Mansel David as A.E. Housman in “Take Desire Away”, James Joyce Centre, Dublin, 2010
He would not stay for me; and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand and tore my heart in sunder
And went with half my life about my ways.
Alfred Edward Housman (1859–1936), the English classical scholar and poet best known for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad, was the subject of Tom Stoppard’s 1997 National Theatre play The Invention of Love, described at the time as “the most emotionally powerful and enthralling play of his career” (and this “from the bare bones of the dry life of A.E.Housman”).
But the clues are there in the poetry – if you know where to look – and the letters tell another story altogether, often with humour.
This performance, conceived & performed by Mansel David, strikes the balance between Housman’s personality traits and the skills that he had as both a poetry writer and a prose writer.
“Jewel and gem flowed from the incredible selection of poems and letters in this fie piece of theatre. A crafted, beautifully delivered homage to Housman… I was constantly engaged. At
one stage Housman writes ‘Only the archangel Raphael could read my poetry properly’. Obviously he hasn’t heard Mansel David do so” International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival Reviews
Pre performance dinner is served from 7pm – an opportunity to enjoy Chef Vix Rathour’s talent with flavours and ability to make your taste buds come alive.
About Mansel David:
Born and brought up in Carmarthen, South Wales, Mansel graduated in Drama & English from Bristol University, before training as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and has worked as a professional actor in theatre, television and radio for 40 years. London West End Theatre work has included plays by Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn, Angela Huth, Royce Ryton and Ray Cooney, with stars such as Felicity Kendal, Roger Rees, Paul Eddington, Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield, Dame Celia Johnson and Sir Ralph Richardson. Television work has included several situation comedies, such as Yes, Prime Minister with Sir Nigel Hawthorne, and The Magnificent Evans with Ronnie Barker.
More recent London appearances have included ‘Lord Grizzle’ in Henry Fielding’s Tom Thumb The Great and ‘Mathias’ in Leopold Lewis’s The Bells, both for ‘Off The Page!’; as well as ‘Davies’ in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, and two of Shakespeare’s greatest comic creations: ‘Bottom’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and ‘Malvolio’ in Twelfth Night.
In 2008, Mansel performed at Northwestern University, Chicago, where he reprised ‘Niels Bohr’ in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, a role he originally played in Munich, Vienna and Zagreb in 2006.
Mansel played ‘Nanny Wink’ in 2011’s Monmouth Savoy Christmas Pantomime Sleeping Beauty, returning for ‘Widow Twankey’ in Aladdin in 2013. This range was further extended with ‘The Earl of Caversham’ in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband on a Tour of Slovenia in 2015. Recent work has included portraying several of the main characters in special presentations of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood with The French House Players.
For most of the 90s, Mansel worked as a founder-member of Pyramid Theatre Company, specialising in issue-based theatre and touring throughout the British Isles and Ireland; and also performed David Rowe’s A House of Leaves, a one-man play, based on the life and work of Wales’s greatest poet, Dafydd Ap Gwilym, which toured throughout Wales in 1995 and later to Scotland, Ireland, California and Texas.
Crummles, a Solo Dramatic Reading adapted from Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, premiered with an American Tour in Autumn 2000, and for over a decade toured to the United States annually, with a presentation Off-Broadway in New York in December 2004, as well as visits to Canada and several European countries.
Take Desire Away, a One-Man Play about A.E.Housman, premiered at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in 2010, and was presented at Theatre Collection’s Solo Festival in 2011 and the Camden Fringe Festival in 2012.